LIHUE — There is a special depository for used, worn, and tattered American flags.
“You don’t just throw it in the trash,” said Robin Sanchez, commander of the American Legion, Post 54, Kapaa. “Our chaplain, Jim Jung created this box several years ago where people can deposit their old flags as long as the gates to the Kauai Veterans Center is open.”
The flags are stored until Flag Day, June 14, when the American Legion retires the flags.
“I’m here because Mel is in Washington, D.C. with the mayor,” Patsy Rapozo said Monday at the Kauai Veterans Center.
Her husband, Mel Rapozo, is chair of the Kauai County Council and part of the American Legion.
“I’m here bringing in old flags from the county,” Patsy said. “But now that I’m here, this is very interesting.”
The American Legion, Post 54, hosts the retiring of unserviceable flags as part of its mission similar to hosting a Missing in Action Veteran and Prisoners of War protocol ahead of its gathering Monday that included Boy Scouts being joined for the first time by Girl Scouts and representatives of the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Mana.
“This is so good to have the young people,” said American Legion Adjutant Johnette Chun. “If we had to do it ourselves, we’d be here forever.”
Jung explained the retiring of flags with dignity.
“When faded, worn, tattered, or torn, our flags must be retired from further service with respect and dignity,” Jung said. “The proper retirement of such flags is one of the missions of the American Legion, a volunteer civilian organization of veterans who have served our country in all branches of the military.”
Jung said when our country’s enemies burn the flag, it is done with disrespect, evil intent, and hatred.
“When we burn our unserviceable flags, it is done with respect, pure intent and love of our country,” Jung said. “This distinction must be recognized by all. It is all about attitude. Our ceremonious retirement of unserviceable flags is done with dignity as when we cremate our loved ones on their deaths.”
The Flag Retirement Ceremony is conducted as prescribed by the American Legion Manual of Ceremonies with the assistance of the Boy Scouts.
“It is very heart-warming to see the numbers of young people increase each year,” Jung said.
In addition to the retirement, Jung leads a session on flag protocol, its history, and symbolism.
“The American flag is the emblem of our great country,” Sanchez said. “It is a precious symbol of our ideals of justice, freedom and democracy. When on display at public functions, we pledge our allegiance to demonstrate our respect and devotion. We honor it at the start of sporting events by singing the Star-Spangled Banner. On Flag Day, we honor not only the flag, but freedom — Flag Day is America Day.”